Yes, buying decisions are to some degree emotional.
All of them. This assertion deeply offends marketers who trust rationality.
But the evidence is stacked the other way. Customers buy from people they like, and by extension, from brands they like.
Consider that college choice, by reputation a considered purchase given the 6-figure price tag. No impulse permitted! Two years of research to whittle 3000 schools to 25 to 10 to 3 seems like the most rational, careful make-a-list-with-check-marks kind of selection process. Ever so left-brained.
But what happens next? College visits are planned, and the prospective student sets foot on Campus A. If it’s a positive experience seeing attractive people, the odds are better than 70% that Colleges B and C will never even get visited. Emotional commitment made; search over.
What’s your takeaway? Your planning – whether you’re selling B2C, B2B, causes, candidates, memberships or philosophy – must not focus totally on content. Devote plenty of attention to make the campaign (ads or website or catalog or email or lecture or presentation or skywriting) likable, credible and unexpected.
Being the first examined in the selection set is vastly more immediate than establishing what we used to call a USP. Make the first experience of encountering the brand engaging (think: the atmosphere of the Apple Store, the front desk of the Ritz-Carlton, goofy announcements on Southwest Air, the speaker’s anecdote) to see how to create the impulse that begins to forge a bond.
Is this radically different from what we called Salesmanship 101? Yes, indeedy. But old-school sales (e.g., heavy repetition of the USP) is in a death spiral. The logic is clear on that.